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Thursday, October 30, 2014

VVLead Fellowship Program Application Now Open Through November 23rd

I am thrilled to invite you to apply for the VVLead Fellowship Program!
Designed for women leaders who are committed to ending economic disparities for women and girls, violence against women and/or harmful cultural practices, VVLead engages both emerging and established women leaders in the business, non-profit, advocacy, media and/or public service/government sectors. Through opportunities tailored to meet the needs, challenges and contextual differences of participants, VVLead is comprised of online courses, in-person exchanges, networking and peer training sessions, resource libraries and working and discussion groups. For more information, please see the attached overview of programmatic offerings and components.  http://www.vitalvoices.org/vvleadfellowship
Vital Voices, the preeminent non-governmental organization that identifies, trains and empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the globe, embarked on the groundbreaking partnership with the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) in 2013 through the formation of VVLead. Recognizing that in order to advance the causes of women, women themselves must connect with, empower, equip and inspire one another at all levels of society, Vital Voices and DFID are committed to helping create a unified response, not just from women’s rights activists and sectoral experts, but also from a wide range of professionals and practitioners across fields and methodologies. The VVLead Fellowship Program is a critical step in this response, offering participants unique opportunities to exchange information, obtain resources and tools, mentor and be mentored and receive vital training through offerings tailored to meet their needs, goals and objectives.
I hope that you will consider applying to take part in this unique opportunity. VVLead applications may be accessed at http://www.vitalvoices.org/vvleadfellowship via the “Apply Here” link. Applications for VVLead will be accepted until Sunday, November 23rd, 2014.
Additionally, should you work with a women leader whom you think would be interested in applying for the VVLead Fellowship Program, please don’t hesitate to send the application along.
Thank you in advance for your consideration, time and effort.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child. This day aims to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. This year’s theme was centered on Empowering Adolescent Girls to end the cycle of violence. As an avid human rights activist and a champion of all things girl empowerment, this day holds special significance and sentimental value to me especially when I think of the 250 Million adolescent girls who live in poverty globally! Being a girl in several contexts of our world comes with its own numerous challenges and it is very unfortunate that the mainstream media does not articulate their plight and also because of the unspoken social contract that exists between classes which results in some of us turning a blind eye to such obvious atrocities.
You would be surprised to know that in some places today, upon reaching puberty most girls will be married off as child brides and will be forced to stop any formal education and will be required to bear children when they are not ready physically, emotionally and mentally. Most of these child brides do not get to choose whom they marry as that decision is made for them sometime even before she can even walk or talk. This cycle exposes her to numerous health complications such as fistulae, HIV & AIDS, STIs, domestic violence and even death during childbirth. It is estimated that in a year, 15 million girls aged below 18 years are married worldwide. In developing worlds one in seven girls is married before her 15th birthday.
There is a growing recognition that harmful traditional beliefs and practices such as early and forced marriage underscore violence and discrimination against girls. Other forms of traditionally condoned forms of discriminations that are rampantly practiced include: son preference; and female genital mutilation (FGM), honor killings, bride burning, and wife inheritance, to name but a few. Even more shocking is the plague of sex trafficking cartels that kidnap girls and force them into prostitution in several regions of the world especially widespread in Cambodia and in most other South-East Asian countries.
#IDG 2014 Ending the Cycle of Violence
Around the world, according to Amnesty International and other reputable sources including the World Bank and WHO, at least one in every three females has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Our socialization process and with these evident prevalent violence occurrence against girls and women results not surprisingly to the mistaken belief that spousal violence in any form is justifiable. Every year, violence in the home and the community devastates the lives of millions of girls and women. Violence against girls and women is rooted in a global culture of discrimination, which denies females equal rights with men and which legitimizes the appropriation of women's bodies for individual gratification or political ends.
Having an international day of the Girl Child first and far most recognizes these human rights violations and attempts to clamor support and momentum around just causes such as the Girl Declaration http://www.girleffect.org/media/139917/declaration_document_web_v6_26_9_13_copy.pdf and the Girl Generation which is  an Africa-led movement to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in one generation among other noble causes to fight for women and girls rights and freedoms. As you go about your day, week and year, I urge you to occasionally reflect on how you can turn girls oppressions into opportunity and to be present to your thoughts, actions and words which may have building or distractive effects to the next generation of young girls and women!